The Large-antlered muntjac — Southeast Asia’s mystery deer (Commentary)

A blue whale has a big heart the size of an adult wild yak. Everyone knows the plight of blue whales — as everyone likewise knows the plight of tigers, elephants and pandas. But few know the threats to wild yaks. And even fewer know the risks faced by Southeast Asia’s Large Antlered Muntjac, or Bhutan’s national mammal, the takin. These big mammals too have heart, yet like so many species, they slip toward extinction in obscurity. This is the second story in a series, as told by scientist Joel Berger and colleagues, profiling threatened unsung large mammals, giving voice to their secrets and need.

In the unlikely event someone walks up to you later today and asks: “When you think about deer, what do you imagine?”, how would you answer?

Depending on your home territory and lifestyle, you might visualize a 12-point trophy buck mounted on a hunting lodge wall, a venison dinner, a voracious gobbler of your garden, Disney’s Bambi, or ground up velvet antlers sold in a vial as an aphrodisiac. Or maybe you flashed on the wild beauty of tear-drop eyes, upraised ears, and unabated curiosity.

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Joel Berger and Minh Nguyen